The Algarve hosted The BPM Festival on 14, 15, 16 and 17 September, the first time the festival touched down on European land following its 10-year history in Mexico. Located in Portimão and Lagoa, The BPM Festival’s first foray in Europe was greeted by the temperate Mediterranean climate, providing the public with spectacular sunsets and pleasant evenings.
Of note was the presence of globally requested acts the likes of Art Department, Hot Since 82, Jamie Jones, Jackmaster, Loco Dice, Nastia, Paco Osuna, Pan-Pot and Seth Troxler as well as pioneers of underground dance music such as Carl Craig, Danny Tenaglia, Dubfire, Paul Kalkbrenner, Richie Hawtin and Victor Calderone.
One week after The BPM Festival in Portugal, I find myself going through my luggage at home in Los Angeles, cleaning out my sandy heels and smelling the aroma of beach off of my sundress. It has taken me awhile to gather my thoughts and catch up from the 4-day techno and house music festival on the other side of the globe. In the last decade, I’ve experienced the ultimate FOMO when it came to The BPM Festival in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. The music brand has consistently showcased the best electronic acts that are classic, up and coming, and underground in their past lineups. What drove me to finally dive myself in this experience and join the community? It was the never-ending photos of the beachside sunsets with my favorite DJ’s plastered all over my social media feeds. It was the fact that I stayed up all night to tune into Be-At-TV at 4 am to take a peak. I knew I couldn’t miss the first European edition, skipping out on Portugal was not an option or regret.
As soon as I stepped off the plane from my 16-hour journey, I headed straight to Popof’s, “Form Music” event at the ’70s retro, Katedral Disco. The hypnotic, dark, hard-hitting techno beats of Julian Jeweil had energized me like no other and whisked away from any idea of sleep or jet lag. Julian’s performance was the perfect kickoff to the marathon run I was about to take on. It was no surprise that this French veteran producer would show the amateurs how it’s done and have one of the best performances. Around 4:00 AM, I headed over to one of the biggest venues out of the seven-party destinations to choose from, Centro de Congressos do Arade. At Centro, you have your selection at a variety of rooms such as The Basement, Teatro, and PAVILHÃO. It was a choose your own adventure situation, with each room offering a warehouse or concert theater vibe. Spirits were flying high and the crowd was full of enthusiasm that opening evening with Pan-Pot and Jackmaster. On my shuttle back to the hotel, I caught my very first Portugal sunrise, a multi-colored spectacle over the glimmering Atlantic Ocean.
In my past musical explorations abroad, I had the bad habit of not exploring the city I was in. In Portugal, I couldn’t neglect the natural beauty and explore the lush landscapes that surrounded me. In my boat tour through the Lagoa caves, I took in the most unbelievable, picturesque views that took my breath away. From the cabanas hangouts, seafood dining and an endless list of water activities there was no shortage ways to relax. It was the perfect recharge from the noise and crowds.
On Friday night, I needed to pay homage to a man who’s played every BPM programme to date, All Day I Dream’s Lee Burridge. The brand new Blanco Beach in Praia Da Rocha hosted the fun-loving, famed party series. In ADID fashion, it was deep house, floral decor and shimmering bodies galore. I powered through the sleepless weekend and made my rounds to showcases, Paradise, YA’AH Muul and elrow. There wasn’t enough of me to go around to stop by Detriot Love with Motor City legend Carl Craig or check out Alan Fitzpatrick at the Offical Closing Party. My finale included a memorable set from one of the most influential people in the dance music industry, Richie Hawtin.
The BPM Festival, Portugal was truly a magical escapade, but just like any other concert series setting itself up in a new country, there are bound to be some hiccups. For the general admission crowds, there had been an issue with wait times to get in the club with the bigger showcases, especially in the evening. This problem is expected with festivals that offer a multi-venue showcase experience much like ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event).
Heightened security due to recent world events and limitations with capacity at the beach clubs seemed to be the culprit of this. There were no mega screens, extravagant light shows or out of this world sound systems but through all of this, the music, beautiful backdrop of Portugal and the gorgeous faces of the 12,000 in attendance from over 90 countries more than made up for it. We are ecstatic to see what the European edition has in store for us for the years to come.